With parts of the USA legalising cannabis, the past few years have seen an explosion of interest in cannabis-related medicines. The most noteworthy is CBD oil, a marajuana-derived product that has become widely stocked in pharmacies and health retailers in the UK.
Forbes have reported that the controversial product could be worth an incredible $2.1 billion by 2020! So, could CBD oil really change the face of health care, or is it just another passing fad?
What is CBD oil?
CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is a substance naturally sourced from hemp plants – a variety of the Cannabis sativa species. These plants also produce THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana. This is what people are looking for when they want a product that gives them a “high.”
Unlike THC, CBD isn’t known to cause psychoactive effects, and is therefore attractive to those who want to avoid the high, but would like to reap the apparent medical benefits of the plant.
To make CBD oil, manufacturers extract CBD from the cannabis plant, and then dilute it with a carrier oil, such as coconut or hemp seed oil. This is generally then dropped under the tongue, but can also be vaped, or used in food.
What are the benefits?
It has been claimed that CBD oil can help with a huge variety of health problems, including pain relief, nicotine addiction, epilepsy, anxiety, cancer, diabetes, and acne. It almost sounds too good true!
Does it actually work?
Despite sounding like a miracle product, studies of CBD are still an emerging science. This means that many of it’s claims have no scientific basis yet, which is why CBD sellers tend to market it as a food supplement, rather than a medicine.
However, there have been some encouraging studies published recently, which suggest CBD may indeed have some positive effects on certain health conditions. For instance, a study published in the European Journal of Pain found that cannabidiol significantly reduced signs of inflammation and discomfort in animals with arthritis.
There was even a landmark case in the UK last year, when doctors found that CBD oil was helping to relieve the symptoms of epilepsy sufferers. This led the government to allow doctors to prescribe cannabis to a small number of patients for the first time.
Can you trust it?
Although there have been some positive signs in these early scientific studies, there is another stumbling block for CBD oil – regulation.
In the UK, all CBD products are legal, provided that they contain none of the psychoactive ingredient THC. Unfortunately, the regulation stops there, which means there’s a huge disparity in the quality of CBD products in the shops.
Lab tests from the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis found that 62 per cent of CBD products on the UK high street didn’t actually contain the CBD content promised on the label!
The research and manufacturing of CBD oil are still very much in their infancy, so it would seem the jury is still out, for now. If you’re looking to try it, it’s best to find a reputable source, and always follow the NHS guidelines on medical cannabis.